Trazodone is an anti-depressant popular both for its effects on mood and is ability to reduce anxiety. It is classed as a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor and is used to treat depression, insomnia and anxiety related disorders. Trazodone does not have a huge potential for abuse and is not as popular of a recreational drug as other prescription medications, however, recreational use does exist.
Is Trazodone Addictive?
Trazodone is very rarely abused and is not considered to be as habit forming as opiates and benzodiazepines. However, it is still an addictive drug and trazodone withdrawal symptoms can present themselves in users who have taken it for an extended period of time and suddenly stop.
Trazodone addiction is not very common because the drug is not popular as a recreational drug. In other words, it is not abused for its therapeutic effects and the people who take it typically do so because they have been prescribed it by their doctor.
However, these users can still be addicted to the drug, whether they realize it or not. Addiction in its simplest form is an unwillingness to stop using and a craving for a substance when they do stop using. It also involves a tolerance, and this is another issue that is very real with trazodone use.
What is Trazodone Used for?
Trazodone is mainly used to treat depression and depressive disorders. However, it tends to make the user very sleepy and sedate, which is why it is often recommended as a night-time medication and why it is also prescribed in patients who suffer from anxiety, insomnia and related conditions.
If you have been using trazodone for a long period of time and decide to stop, then you should first consult with your doctor as you will likely experience trazodone withdrawal. This is not as uncomfortable and debilitating as withdrawals from painkillers like codeine and anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax. However, the issue is real, it’s unpleasant and it’s not something you will want to experience.
There is a certain misconception when it comes to drugs, addiction and withdrawal and it is based around the belief that only abuse can read to severe addiction and debilitating withdrawals. That’s not the case. Someone who has been prescribed therapeutic doses of trazodone for several years and has used the drug as prescribed throughout this time is still exposed to those withdrawal symptoms.
Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms
The most common trazodone withdrawal symptoms are feelings of general malaise, irritability, discomfort and restlessness. They are withdrawal symptoms that are associated with everything from immediate cessation of a smoking habit, to the early symptoms of Valium withdrawal.
They should not last for long and in many cases users will not even acknowledge that they exist, merely shrugging them off as a few bad days. If the user has been on a high dose for a long time, however, then this won’t be as easy.
The biggest issue with trazodone withdrawal is the rebound of insomnia, anxiety, depression and/or any other conditions that the drug was prescribed for in the first place. If the drug was working to keep those conditions at bay and is then taken away, then they may come back with a vengeance, worsened by the restlessness and general unease and leaving the user feeling exposed.
Trazodone Withdrawal Timeline
Everyone’s experience with trazodone withdrawal, just like everyone’s experience with trazodone addiction, will differ. It comes down to experience with drugs, genetic makeup, preexisting health conditions, age, and the extent of the addiction. It may be that you don’t feel anything at all and are able to continue with your life as normal, it may be that you begin to suffer the onset of withdrawals within a day or two and generally have a bad time for a few days.
In any case, the withdrawals should disappear within a week or two and the only issue that remains will be the psychological concerns that the drug was prescribed to fix in the first place.
Dangers of Trazodone
In rare cases, trazodone has been shown to cause cardia arrhythmia, a worrying albeit very rare side effect. There have also been a couple hundred cases of priapism reported. This condition causes males to become erect for hours at a time. It’s a condition which may sound amusing at first, but one that is incredibly uncomfortable, embarrassing and ultimately dangerous.
Trazodone may also be dangerous in users who are generally sedate by nature, with low levels of fatigue, very little energy, and an inability to concentrate. In such cases the additional fatigue and sedation brought on by the drug may lead to a further drop in normal physical and mental output and could even dangerously alter blood pressure and heart rate.
There are other worrying trazodone side effects as well, although it’s worth noting that most of the serious ones are very rare and that such frightening side effects can typically be found on most prescription drug leaflets.
Trazodone Side Effects
The most common side effects of trazodone include:
- Blurry Vision
- Feeling Dizzy
- Dry Mouth
- Headaches and Migraine
- Night Sweats
- Weight Changes
- Memory Issues
- Agitation and Restlessness
These account for side effects listed as “Very Common” and “Common”, which occur in fewer than 10% and in 1 to 10% of users respectively. Uncommon trazodone side effects include:
- Dry Eyes
- Muscle Twitching
- Disturbance in Walking
- Skin Breakouts and Redness
- Bladder Pains
As for the rare trazodone side effects, which occur in fewer than 0.01%, they can include lactation, heart problems, increased salivation, jaundice, seizure and psychosis. If you are worried about any of these side effects, just have a word with your doctor and they can put your mind at rest. There is no way to guard against them, but you can double check to make sure that preexisting conditions and medications will not interfere with them and make them worse or more likely.
This is something that your doctor will be able to tell you, but in many cases they will simply make sure of a few things and then tell you to try the drug and report back to them. Informing them of any side effects really is important. It’s a step many patients will skip, even thought the label advises it. Most of them feel like they are wasting the doctor’s time with minor complaints, but sometimes minor issues can be indicative of bigger problems.